Two former professors who are suing the for-profit Phoenix School of Law claim that administrators “propos[ed] curriculum changes that would make it more difficult for students to transfer to another law school and retain their credits, a change that …

Dean Shirley Mays allegedly described as ‘building a better mousetrap.’”

Wow. If true, Dean Mays certainly has a way with words.

“De Domenico dreamed of writing [a] science-based novel.”

She’s got the fiction part down.

Ovidius!

Ovidius Ovidius
With rector insidious
Ovidius, Constanta campus!

Zero Dark Thirty.

Er, make that 24.

And, as law schools across the country begin to enjoy the synergy of the ABA’s policy of accrediting anything that moves, and the dramatic shrinkage of the job market, there’s this from the Charleston School of Law (famed for the otter tank pissing incident):

Graduates of the Charleston School of Law are so alarmed by the possible sale of the school to InfiLaw System that they are considering ways to stop it.

Current students grew more outraged Friday, when they couldn’t get answers to their questions on the school’s future from its leaders.

The law school released a statement Thursday evening, which said it had entered into a management services agreement with InfiLaw System, a group that owns three other for-profit law schools.

Investors are cashing in and letting the place go diploma mill and they don’t want to talk about it.

“The Others” is the name of a very good scary…

movie. UD thinks of its name whenever a big research fraud story breaks, since the trapped honcho almost always blames his years of image manipulation, plagiarism, data futzing, etc., on the others – shadowy research assistants in the corners of the lab of whose evil ways the honcho was tragically ignorant.

So it is with Shigeaki Kato, a University of Tokyo bigshot who studies molecular signaling. He’s at 43 retractions and counting. Note the use of the passive voice plus the others in his comment.

[Kato is quoted as having said] “there is no doubt that there was impropriety.” He is also quoted as apologizing and explaining that he didn’t catch the impropriety because he trusted his lab members.

Kato’s fraud goes back sixteen years! Talk about trust… I mean, I think we’re past trust and into naivete at this point… It’s the purest of heart who always get pulled down by the world.

Leslie…

Gored.

All praise to Todd Wallack, the Boston Globe reporter who put up with all the shit the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and its risible public relations firm threw at him to try to make him go away.

**********

UD thanks Barney.

University of North Carolina = Franz Kafka …

Airport.

University spokeswoman Karen Moon said in an email that a number of offices on campus are already involved in handling the new supplementary courses, and an email address and phone number have been established specifically for organizing the courses.

But calls and emails made by The Daily Tar Heel to both inquiry lines went unanswered.

Dee Reid, director of communications for the College of Arts and Sciences, and Chris Derickson, assistant provost and University registrar, both said the best information available at this point is that on the University’s website — the same proposals that were submitted to the accrediting agency.

The Department of African and Afro-American Studies did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

According to University documents, 304 alumni who received academic credit for “Type 1” courses — those which either did not exist or the instructor denied teaching and signing the grade roll for — will be given the option of returning to UNC for one supplementary course at any time over the next five years.

‘Some especially large and healthy hospital systems like UPMC, he adds, are “dripping with success and affluence. If you’ve got a mayor struggling to meet a budget, he could look at that and say, ‘Jeez, what are you really doing for the community?’”’

The University of Pittsburgh is a university, a non-profit institution advantaged in myriad ways because of its tax breaks as a non-profit. It is categorized, in fact, as a charity. Are you with me so far?

The person who runs the university’s hospital makes six million dollars a year.

Does that sounds like an appropriate use of tax-payer money? Like a non-profit salary? Or are you smelling just the slightest whiff of profit motive in this figure? Throw in private jets and chefs and chauffeurs and all and you begin to understand why the city of Pittsburgh is suing the hospital, and why this trend – suing so-called non-profits to make them act like (and share like) the for-profits they are – is becoming national.

But local Pittsburgh politics aside, large non-profit health systems are getting new attention from city and state tax officials across the country facing budget crises. “The fact is hospitals are coming under more scrutiny,” says Gary Young, director of Northeastern University’s Center for Health Policy and Healthcare Research. “The city’s willingness to take on a hospital with the cachet that UPMC has is sending a chill down the spines of many hospitals around the country who are saying, ‘If this is happening in Pittsburgh, what could happen with us?’”

I remind you of all this in connection with the public relations problems NYU is currently facing, as its administrators and some of its faculty help themselves to vacation houses on their students’ – and the taxpayer’s – dime.

For what it’s worth, here’s what I think part of the problem is.

The trend toward packing your board of trustees with Olympians like Steven A. Cohen (personal wealth nine billion dollars) and just down from there is that you as an administrator now hobnob on a regular basis with such people. Study after study tells us that perceptions of one’s financial success are profoundly dependent on the financial profile of the people in your neighborhood, at your workplace. It’s all comparative.

Your attitude toward personal wealth thus shifts as hedge fund managers become the new normal on campus. Your one million dollar a year compensation becomes downright embarrassing. Infuriating. What to do?

You convince yourself you can’t attract the mega-rich and their money to your campus without dressing, talking, and living like them.

You’re not being greedy; on the contrary, you’re doing high-minded work on behalf of the university by styling yourself a financial titan on the same level as your trustees.

***********************

One saw this process very clearly on the Yeshiva board of trustees when Bernard Madoff and Ezra Merkin – men of unimaginable personal wealth – walked as gods among the administrators there. Fellow trustees and high-ranking administrators at Yeshiva fell over themselves to be cut into Merkin/Madoff deals. These people used to think they were rich. M and M showed up and showed them they were poor. “We thought he was God,” says Yeshiva trustee Elie Wiesel of Bernard Madoff.

So, you know, a rising tide lifts all boats. If the water level is one billion dollars in personal assets, everyone’s going to want to rise to that. It won’t seem strange to them – it doesn’t seem strange to NYU – that multi-million dollar vacation homes would be part of a university compensation package. I mean, by prevailing standards, that’s nothing! That’s the bare minimum.

************************

This is all well and good – this rising tide business – until people who actually know what non-profits are — or people who realize they are giving their tax money to university robber barons — themselves begin to rise up.

‘Privately, several people connected with the academy have questioned if unflattering attention to Ms. Berlowitz’s pay might prove awkward, given that the report is, as Mr. Rowe put it, “a full-throated plea for more public and private funding.” According to filings with the Internal Revenue Service, Ms. Berlowitz received compensation totaling more than $598,000 for the fiscal year ending in March 2012 for leading the academy’s staff of several dozen — far more than the leaders of most similar scholarly societies, and more than many college presidents.’

It’s the hydra-head problem again. When the head of the group that assembled the upcoming report on the impoverished state of the humanities in America is herself way over-compensated (plus – reportedly – the daily user of a chauffeured limo) it makes it easy for enemies of funding to say Hey well humanists seem to be doing right well for themselves. When the person responsible for the report is alleged to have been an inhumane boss, it makes it easy for enemies of funding to ask In what way do the humanities as presently carried out make you more humane?

The problem has things in common with university presidents who have chauffeured limos and private jets and first-class travel – American University’s Benjamin Ladner being the highest profile example of this in the last few years. The problem is also related to university presidents who use up a good deal of their time and make hundreds of thousands of extra dollars sitting on the boards of places like Goldman Sachs; shady hedge fund guys on boards of trustees; and schools with multi-billion-dollar endowments. It’s just hard to keep aloft the Beautiful Suffering Misunderstood Humanities banner when high-profile people very publicly making the case for them are making out like bandits.

It’s a very similar hypocrisy to the over-compensated law professor at the public interest law school.

Everyone gets hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is one of the easiest things to understand.

Nothing against honorary societies…

… but their tendency toward insularity and self-regard is easy to satirize. By definition, they must be small lest admission cease to be an honor; but this very smallness – and the always somewhat obscure (and to some extent corruptible) business of how one gets in – represents a danger.

Todd Wallack, an enterprising Boston Globe reporter, broke the story of Lesley Cohen Berlowitz’s apparent fake credentials, as well as her very real obscene salary and perks as head of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She handles a tiny staff and budget and makes more than most university presidents.

Now the Massachusetts attorney general is looking into the matter (a law firm is already on the case), and of course I’ve already talked about the hydra-headed nature of almost all organizations — even small ones. So we can expect a Berlowitz blow-out pretty soon, in which rumors about her bullying of staff, use of a limo for the short trip between the AAAS and her apartment, etc., etc., are confirmed…

Looking ahead, we can also see that the AAAS will go from invisible (Les UD’s own a house fifty yards from the AAAS and knew virtually nothing about it) to notorious in the public eye. Notorious and ridiculous.

There Goes the Neighborhood.

Les UDs have what they always considered a posh neighbor across the street from their Shady Hill Square house in Cambridge. Fifty yards from their ivied walls lies the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a rather vague outfit to both UDs, but one they feel sure does good and high-minded things.

I don’t know why neither of us has ever had any interest in figuring out just what the AAAS does. Talking about it now, we were able to eke out a memory that the AAAS publishes the journal Daedalus, and that our long-ago neighbor and friend John Kenneth Galbraith was a member (we think). I’ve always been pleased that their rather small building in a large park keeps the view in that direction green and leafy…

All very nice, you say. And yet — who knows what evil lurks at Irving and Beacon Streets? A reader sends UD (UD thanks her reader) this scathing article from the Boston Globe, detailing an organization whose leader lied about having earned a doctorate (a lie that continues to help her get federal funds), makes an unconscionable salary (almost $600,000) for the head of a very small non-profit, and “requires workers to chauffeur her between the office and her luxury apartment along the Charles River in Cambridge.” (Back in 2003, the Globe had already taken notice of this woman.)

****************************

Now if your problem is that you’re perceived as high-handed and out of touch, how do you deal with that?

Well, you instruct one of your underlings to instruct reporters that they are to report to your expensive public relations person who will condescend to say the following:

“Neither the academy nor President Berlowitz is going to respond to subjective, interpretive, and gossipy allegations from former employees and unnamed sources. …Nor are they going to respond to personal questions that are irrelevant, do not belong in the public ­domain and, frankly, smack of sexism.”

Wow! Winner! Touched all the bases there. Advised her not to speak directly to the press. Not even to answer the phone, a job for subordinates. Announced that James Devitt, NYU spokesman who looked at that school’s records in regard to President Berlowitz, is just a mean ol’ stupid ol’ gossip. Plus you’re all sexists!

All UD can say is, next time I see the Berlowitz limo whizzing by I’m gonna let out a Bronx cheer loud enough for her to hear and tell her to move the hell out. She’s lowering the tone of the place.

An Aggregation of Difficulties…

… now swirls around the Chief Rabbi of France: plagiarism, academic fraud…

Which goes to prove one of the fundamental rock solid oft-stated UD principles:

Find one instance of plagiarism for any one person, and you’ll find lots more; and, almost certainly, you’ll find that the same person has engaged in other forms of malfeasance.

Details on the plagiarism here. And now that people are scrutinizing Gilles Bernheim, other stuff has emerged.

Further investigation …showed Bernheim noted on his CV a high academic status that he may not actually hold.

His Who’s Who entry, based on information he provided, says he was awarded from Sorbonne University an “agregation de philosophie”, a prestigious but extremely difficult to obtain achievement that permits the teaching of philosophy in French institutions.

However university “agregation” lists from 1972 to 2000 have no entry for Bernheim.

The head of the association managing the lists, Blanche Lochmann, said the Grand Rabbi’s name was not in the agregation lists kept by the French education ministry either.

“It is very difficult for a public figure to try to fool people as to whether he has an agregation,” she said.

“This is the first instance that is so blatant.”

Everyone’s a little bit sociopathic…

… I guess. When we were at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland decades ago, UD‘s then-boyfriend, David Kosofsky (brother of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick), took it into his head that we should pretend to be Israelis. Little UD must have passively gone along, but the evil genius was David; and UD remembers how horrified and trapped she felt when she realized that the inane scheme was working all too well — that people at the school indeed assumed he wasn’t lying (what kind of a freak would lie about such a thing?) and in a kindly way inquired about their backgrounds, asked if there were special foods they should prepare for them at dinner, wondered if they’d been traumatized by that country’s difficult history, etc., etc.

UD felt shame. She insisted that David figure out a way to stop the game.

To this day, UD can’t enjoy the whole Sacha Baron Cohen thing, where you laugh at the efforts of well-meaning people to be polite and understanding toward some fake identity you’ve made them believe in. The word for this is cruel, and it’s not exactly news that everyone has the capacity to be cruel, and that some people have a large capacity.

As to the Manti Te’o hoax at Notre Dame, UD can only say what she’s said for so long in this blog category (hoaxes are so common, they’ve got their own category on University Diaries): The world is full of vaguely sociopathic game-players, and, you know, let the buyer beware. Walk down your street of dreams – don’t let me stop you – but do yourself a favor and wonder occasionally if the uncannily exact match between certain inspirational stories on offer (see also Lance Armstrong) and your desires in regard to inspiration is just too close for credibility.

I’m a sap too – I don’t mean to suggest otherwise. But as an inveterate hoax-watcher, I do begin to see patterns.

“The people who are working for them who may get drawn into this web are really acting in a pathological environment created by the principal investigator.”

When it comes to university sports, it doesn’t get any more pathological than the University of Kentucky, a perennially corrupt player constantly featured on this blog.

These details from the Eric Smart scientific misconduct scandal on that campus round out the picture of UK as one of America’s most third-world universities, featuring not only an intensely corrupt athletics division, but a high-profile research lab whose now-disgraced director seems to have been protected by people in the administration.

Tim Bricker, the former chair of pediatrics, wrote [Smart] a recommendation letter to the state’s teacher certification agency, calling him “an outstanding teacher.” Bricker is thought to have also removed a letter of reprimand from Smart’s personnel file that detailed his yearlong probation for sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment in his lab.

“Editors were unable to find 69 people in 34 of her stories since 1998, when the newspaper began archiving stories electronically.”

UD began university life, as some of her readers know, at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

She hadn’t been there long before she felt the seductive pull of simply making up people and quotations for her stories. Listen to any radio call-in show to grasp how dumb and halting most real people are. Much better to use your literary talents to fashion Wildean bon mots in the mouths of unique and deeply moving human specimens.

Journalists who do this long enough, like this one from the Cape Cod Times, may eventually get caught. She has been fired.

« Previous PageNext Page »

Latest UD posts at IHE

Archives

Categories